The Ultimate Guide to Owning a Hot Tub: Everything You Need to Know

Hot tubs and Lay-Z-Spas have become much more accessible over recent years, allowing many of us to embrace a slice of luxury in our back gardens. Keeping a hot tub maintained and running properly will require some preparation, but once you understand a bit about the what, why and how, ensuring your tub stays in good condition will be relatively simple. 

Our beginners’ guide to hot tub ownership aims to compile our resources, addressing the main questions and concerns you’ll encounter as a new hot tub owner. 



Setting Up Your Hot Tub 

So, you’ve bought a hot tub – whether it's a hard shell or inflatable spa. Now what? 

Understanding Hot Tub Components

First things first, it’s probably a good idea to take stock of the basic components that keep your hot tub running so you know what does what and why it’s important to maintain. The main elements of a hot tub consist of: 

  • Circulation
  • Filtration
  • Heating

Circulation is handled by a pump, which essentially acts as the beating heart of your hot tub. It will ensure the water continuously moves around and passes through the filtration and heater systems. A hot tub pump will also supply water to the jets, which provide the relaxing massage effects. 

Hot Tub filters tend to be cartridge filters – these cylinders of pleated filter material trap dirt, debris and bacteria and stop them from re-entering the water. Filters will need to be cleaned quite regularly, depending on usage, to ensure they are working effectively. 

Hot tubs are best enjoyed at balmy temperatures, so keeping the heating element in good condition is a must. Water passes through the heater and is then reintroduced to the tub. 

While it's a good idea to keep an eye on all of these components, the only thing you’ll need to manually deal with regularly is the filter when it needs cleaning. 

Other key elements of your hot tub experience will be chemicals and a cover – more on this in this section on maintenance. 

Tips for new hot tub owners

Placing Your Hot Tub in the Right Location

Before you fill up your tub, think carefully about placement. It must be set up somewhere flat and stable – the space will need a solid foundation that can withstand the weight of the water. For this reason, putting it directly onto grass may not be the best option. Although, you can get hot tub flooring that will help support the tub if you can only put it on grass. 

Choosing a more secluded or sheltered spot that’s out of sight is another key consideration, as you’ll want to create a peaceful haven. However, it will still need to be an accessible area in close proximity to a power source. 

Filling Up Your Hot Tub For the First Time 

Rinse your hot tub so you’re starting with a completely blank slate. Fill the foot well with water and let it drain to clear anything from the pipes. You can also take this time to spray and wipe down the hot tub with a non-abrasive cleaner. Make sure it is thoroughly rinsed after to ensure your hot tub won’t foam later. 

Once you’ve performed the basic set-up (following the instructions provided with your hot tub), you can fill it up. You can simply use your garden hose to add the water. If you fill through the skimmer basket, you can prevent airlock (air in the plumping lines stopping the jets from functioning properly). 

Generally, you should fill your tub to about an inch below the headrest, although your hot tub’s instructions may have more specific guidance about how high the water level should be. 

Hot Tub Running Costs – What to Expect

Innovative technology means that most modern hot tubs are very efficient to run. Thermal covers, insulating materials, energy-saving heaters and cold-weather protection help ensure you don’t waste money when your tub or spa is on. 

Below is a breakdown of the estimated costs for running a Lay-Z-Spa inflatable hot tub each week. These prices may differ depending on the model, how often you use it and changing tariff prices, but it provides a general idea of what you can expect to pay. 

Seasonal Temperatures Weekend Usage  Full Weekend Usage
Summer £7.63-£10.38 £11.77-£19.17
Winter  £10.80-£15.45 £16.11-£25.38

You can read more about the potential running costs involved in spa and hot tub ownership with our overview. 

Lay-Z-Spa running costs

Hot Tub Maintenance

Once the basic setup is complete, you’ll need to turn your sights to hot tub maintenance. Properly maintaining the quality and cleanliness of your water is one of the most important aspects of being a hot tub owner.

Without regular maintenance, you not only run the risk of doing expensive damage to your equipment, but you could also be risking the health of any bathers who use your tub. Water that isn’t balanced or maintained can lead to skin or eye irritation and exposure to harmful germs. Ensuring your hot tub experience is safe and enjoyable is straightforward with the right chemicals, treatments and maintenance routine. 

Using the Right Hot Tub Chemicals

Dosing your water with hot tub chemicals is a simple process and will quickly become a part of your weekly routine. Essential chemicals you’ll use to treat the water include: 

  • Sanitiser – i.e. chlorine or bromine
  • Water balancers – i.e. pH plus, pH minus or alkalines
  • Hot tub shock
  • Water clarifier, foam remover, spa conditioner

You can learn more about why and how to use each of these chemicals with our comprehensive Lay-Z-Spa chemicals guide. 

Guide to Lay-Z-Spa Chemicals

Shocking Your Hot Tub 

Alongside everyday chemical maintenance, you will need to use hot tub shock treatments. Shock introduces a high concentration of free chlorine/oxidiser into your water to rapidly increase the level of sanitising chemicals. This allows for a ‘deeper’ clean than your milder daily sanitisers. 

Hot tub shock chemicals bring your water back to base level cleanliness, removing contaminants and chloramines but also reactivating sanitisers and helping clear cloudy water. You will likely need to shock your hot tub around once a week to keep everything in good condition. Chlorine and non-chlorine shock are available.

How to shock your hot tub

Testing Your Hot Tub Water 

To ensure your chemicals are working effectively and to establish when they need to be topped up, regular testing will be required. You can do this easily with hot tub test strips, which provide quick, accurate and easy-to-read results. 

In most cases, when using test strips, you will simply collect a water sample, dip a strip into it and wait around 15 seconds before comparing the resulting colour of the chart on the packaging. 

In terms of what measurements to look for, the ideal chemical ranges for hot tubs include: 

  • Chlorine: 3 ppm
  • pH: 7.2-7.6
  • Total Alkalinity: 80-150 ppm

If your chemical levels are not properly balanced, these products will not work as intended. Testing your water around twice a week, or more frequently if the tub is used every day, will provide you with a good understanding of whether your chlorine levels are still high enough to sanitise your water and if everything is still in balance. 

Guide to pH Levels in Hot Tubs

Using a Hot Tub Cover 

Along with chemicals, a key part of keeping your spa or tub well-maintained is the use of a hot tub cover. When it's not in use, a cover will fit snugly over your hot tub to keep out debris and dirt. This means your chemicals won’t have to work as hard to eliminate contaminants, so they can last longer. 

A good hot tub cover will also keep heat in, so you’ll waste less energy and money maintaining the right water temperature. Keeping your tub covered can also generally protect it from the elements and prevent external damage. 

Cleaning Hot Tub Filters 

As mentioned in the first section, another key task you’ll have to perform is cleaning your hot tub filters. Over time, these filters will collect the dirt and grime present in your water. If they become too clogged, they will eventually become ineffective at collecting contaminants and removing them from your water – leaving you with an unpleasant, dirty spa experience. 

On a weekly basis, you can simply rinse your cartridge filter with water to dislodge the dirt it has trapped. For a deeper clean, you can use filter cleaner or soak to tackle grease and oils that may be present. Letting the filter soak in a cleaner that’s made for this purpose means the cleaning agent can reach every fold and restore it to its most effective self. 

For more information and instructions for maintaining your filters, see our guide.

Cleaning your hot tub filters

Hot tub filters are sturdy but they won’t last forever. While you can clean and maintain them to prolong their life, it’s recommended that you replace your filter cartridges around once a year. 

Maintaining Water Quality 

Even after ensuring you’ve added and balanced the correct chemicals, your hot tub water can end up becoming a little lacklustre. Whether it's cloudy, foamy or milky, water that doesn't look sparkling and pristine (even if it’s clean) can be unappealing to bathe in. 

Water that appears cloudy or otherwise compromised can be caused by a number of things: 

  • Algae
  • Organic matter from bathers or the environment
  • Broken or ineffective filters 

Your first action to resolve cloudy water should be to shock your hot tub. If you still feel that your water doesn’t have that luxurious spa-like quality, it is certainly worth using products like water clarifiers, foam-away and hot tub conditioners. These can be easily added to the water after it’s been sanitised to make it clearer, smoother and more inviting. 

How to fix cloudy and milky hot tub water

Cleaning Your Hot Tub 

But what about the body/shell of the hot tub itself? It’s inevitable that your hot tub’s surface will attract some dirt or signs of use, especially around the waterline. After every use or so, it’s worth wiping down the water line and surrounding surfaces with a clean, damp cloth to prevent any scum lines lingering. For particularly stubborn lines or marks, you can use a waterline cleaning spray or surface cleaner. 

Paying attention to all the above maintenance points will help ensure that your hot tub shell and surfaces won’t get too dirty, but it’s worth giving them a regular wipe-down all the same. Whenever you drain your hot tub, it is also a good idea to thoroughly wipe and rinse everything with a hot tub cleaner before refilling it with fresh water. 

How to clean a hot tub

General Hot Tub Maintenance Schedule 

To keep things on track, see our basic hot tub maintenance schedule. As you become more familiar with your hot tub habits and expectations, you may tweak the frequency of tasks to suit your lifestyle.

The complete hot tub maintenance checklist

You can read more about each step with our complete hot tub maintenance checklist

Hot Tub Troubleshooting

Even if you're diligent with hot tub care, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into some issues. Common problems to look out for (that you should be able to fix relatively easily) include: 

  • Poor water quality and chemistry (i.e. cloudy, foamy, green, irritating or yellow water)
  • Leaky seals
  • Heater failure
  • Clogged or broken filters
  • Airlock/faulty jets 

To find out how to fix these issues, see our troubleshooter. 

Hot tub problems and solutions

Closing Down Your Hot Tub 

While you may (understandably) want to make the most of your hot tub, there are some instances when you’ll need to prepare it for disuse. Whether this means shutting it down completely for months at a time or readying it for a shorter period of low maintenance, there are several steps that’ll ensure reviving it again goes smoothly.

Maintaining Your Hot Tub When it’s Not in Use 

If you’re going away on holiday or simply won’t be using your hot tub for a few weeks, it is more efficient to partially close it rather than shutting it off completely. Doing things like still maintaining chemicals, using a hot tub cover, circulating the water, regulating water temperature and maintaining water levels may all seem like things you’d do when your hot tub is in use; however, they’re important aspects for hot tubs in temporary disuse, too. 

Draining and refilling your hot tub requires a lot of water, plus there’s all the energy required to heat it back up to consider. Ultimately, leaving things running can be less time-consuming and more energy-efficient – albeit, with a few caveats. You can find out more below. 

How to care for your hot tub when it's not in use

Closing Your Hot Tub For Winter 

When it comes to more extended periods of disuse, like during the winter months, you may prefer to drain and completely shut down your tub, ready for spring. While, with the right preparation, you can keep using your hot tub all year round, if you’re not tempted by a wintery soak, proper winter closure will keep your hot tub or spa protected. 

We would recommend following our 10-step winter closure checklist: 

  1. Use a hot tub flush to clean out the pipes.
  2. Turn the power to your hot tub completely off.
  3. Drain your hot tub of all water.
  4. Remove, clean and store the filters away.
  5. Loosen fittings and union to allow any water to drain out.
  6. Blow through the pipes and plumbing lines to remove water.
  7. Remove any of the additional water that has been drained into the tub.
  8. Clean the hot tub shell with a non-abrasive surface cleaner.
  9. Clean and secure your hot tub cover.
  10. Keep an eye on your hot tub over the next few months to keep the cover clear of ice and debris. 

For more details about each step, see the full winterising guide. 

How to close your hot tub for winter

Draining Your Hot Tub Water 

There are a couple of reasons why you may need to drain your hot tub of water completely: 

  • To refresh the water (it is a good idea to replace your hot tub water every 3 months).
  • During the off-season when your hot tub will be packed/shut away.
  • If you're experiencing issues with water that the normal water treatments can’t resolve. 

The actual draining process is quite simple; you just need to be careful where you direct the wastewater. To avoid flooding, it is best to send the water directly to a drain. You can, however, also recycle this water to use on plants or for car washing if the chemicals and cleanliness levels are appropriate. 

To drain your hot tub: 

  1. First, flush the pipelines with a plumping cleaner to tackle any biofilm.
  2. Switch off the power and loosen the drain valve – you can attach a hose to the valve to direct water to the drain.
  3. Alternatively, you can use a submersible pump to remove the water. This method is much quicker.

How to dispose and replace hot tub water

Hopefully, we have hit upon the main concerns you’ll have as a new hot tub owner. For any essential points we might've missed or if you require further details, check out our blog or get in touch with the 1st Direct Pools team. 

If you require spare parts, replacement equipment or any hot tub chemicals, we stock everything to keep your hot tub or Lay-Z-Spa ticking over!